Sequester Watch, #11

July 1st, 2013 at 5:32 pm

This week’s SW begins with an interesting and well-researched article in today’s WaPo on how sequestration hasn’t been nearly as bad as some people expected.

Fair point, for sure, but let’s look a bit more carefully at what’s being claimed both in the WaPo piece and here at OTE.

–The WaPo is looking specifically at “dire predictions” and finding that a minority have come to pass, some effects are worse than forecast, while half of the 48 predictions they look into haven’t come to pass.

That’s not our approach.  We’re trying to document any and every account we can find of the sequester’s impact, regardless of predictions.  That’s not at all to say the WaPo’s effort is misguided.  Theirs is more of an accountability exercise, and there’s little denying that some claims made by sequestration opponents have not yet been born out.

–Of course, “not yet” doesn’t mean never.  Even effects that won’t be felt this year because they were cancelled (furloughs of air-traffic controllers) could come back next year unless Congress acts again to exempt them.

–Some of the offsets documented by the WaPo that enabled agencies to avoid real cuts are one-time events.  EG, they document a $300 million cut in “expired balances” at Justice, funds that were allocated but not intended to be spent.  Once you’ve done that once, you can’t do it again.

–In this regard, it is a mistake for the WaPo to go from “dire predictions haven’t materialized” which is true, to “the sequester isn’t so bad,” which is surely not the case for many affected people.

Let’s not lose sight of the larger picture here.  The cuts that are being made, e.g., the WaPo finds unemployment benefit cuts of up to 11%, or $450 per year, are serious for some families’ budgets and for the broader economy.  Moreover, as I and others have stressed, the discretionary, or agency, accounts are not where the real spending pressures are coming from…that would be health care costs.

And let’s not lose sight of the smaller picture either: the micro impacts on the families that lose a Head Start slot or a meal for a shut-in elderly person.  Anecdotal and journalistic reports of the type we’ve featured here have found many examples of these cases.  They are harsh, unnecessary, and ill-advised—much more a symptom of congressional gridlock then fiscal rectitude.

‘A Slow-Motion Train Wreck’: The Real Consequences of the Sequester
June 24, 2013
By Allison Kilkenny
The Nation

Sequestration May Lead To Layoffs Of Capitol Janitors
June 24, 2013
By Amanda Terkel
Huffington Post

Sequester Cuts Health Insurance Tax Credit for Small Nonprofits
June 25, 2013
By Rick Cohen
Nonprofit Quarterly

EXCLUSIVE: Sequester means cuts to local housing for poor
June 25, 2013
By Dan Horn

Sequester shmester? The worst is yet to come.
June 26, 2013
By Tory Newmyer

PBS Affiliate Warns Sequestration Cuts Could Take Popular Shows Away
June 26, 2013
Huffington Post

Marines may have to cut 8,000 more if sequester remains
June 26, 2013
By Jim Michaels
USA Today

Sequester Hits Home for Pa. Moms, Children
June 26, 2013
By Queen Muse
NBC10 Philadelphia

Washington County Head Start program dwindles after sequestration budget cuts
June 27, 2013
By Elizabeth Conkey
Bennington Banner (NY)

Sequestration Cuts Hurting Head Start
June 28, 2013
By Joselyn King
The Intelligencer (WV)

The sequester’s long, slow burn
June 28, 2013
Politico Pro

Sequester-related delays may return to airports
June 28, 2013
By Kevin Robillard
Politico Pro

Catrina Jackson shares how the recent sequester is harming our city’s early-education programs
June 28, 2013
By Catrina Jackson
Chicago Sun-Times

Sequester Pentagon cuts start to bite
June 28, 2013
By Sabri Ben-Achour
Marketplace Radio

Citing the Sequester and Missouri’s Rejection of Medicaid Expansion, Rural Ozarks Hospital Resorts to Layoffs
June 28, 2013
By Jennifer Davidson
KSMU Ozarks Public Radio

Chief Justice Roberts: Sequester cuts hitting federal judiciary ‘hard’
June 29, 2013
By Ben Geman
The Hill

LETTER: Sequester Makes Harsh Cut To Unemployment Benefits
June 29, 2013
By Joseph Durette
The Courant (CT)–20130628_1_unemployment-benefits-long-term-unemployed-job-market

Headstart class lost to budget sequester
June 30, 2013
By Jenn Smith
The North Adams Transcript (MA)

Why is the Department of Justice not paying its assistant attorneys?
June 30, 2013
By Christie Thomson

Nonprofits feel sequester’s pain
June 30, 2013
By Khurram Saeed
The Journal News (NY)

Sequestration not just a Beltway issue
June 30, 2013
By Jennifer Sakole
Washington Post

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4 comments in reply to "Sequester Watch, #11"

  1. Rob Edmiston says:

    Thought this Jimmy Cliff song appropriate after reading this post.
    Excellent new version on his Live at KCRW release.

  2. Pablo says:

    WaPo point was that Administration hyped the potential damage. Now that their exaggerations are false, it is hard to get any attention on the topic.

  3. PeonInChief says:

    I noted that the WaPo piece didn’t even mention housing, where the consequences are serious for low-income tenants in subsidized housing. Many don’t make enough to pay the 30% they’re already charged, let alone the additional sums required a a result of sequester. When the number of homeless families rise, we’ll know why.

  4. Bill Gatliff says:

    Now I’m beginning to understand Norquist’s confident swagger after the Presidential election, and why he kept noting Republican domination in governorship of the states.

    Put simply, if the R’s can by any means necessary merely transfer the expense of running society back to the state level a’la sequester and “state’s rights”, then they move the referendum to a home-court advantage: 30-ish Republican governors, and 25 states where they have majorities in both chambers (ref: Wikipedia).

    The situation is a bit like Brer Rabbit begging the fox to not throw him back into the briar patch. And in promoting a message that pushes the blame for the blowback of sequester et. al back up to the federal level, they create a nice feedback loop.

    Another way of thinking of the strategy is: divide, and conquer.